Mexican journalist under federal protection murdered in Veracruz
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) seriously questions the usefulness of Mexico’s mechanisms for protecting journalists after a journalist receiving protection for the past six months was murdered in Hueyapan de Ocampo, a small town in the south of Veracruz state, on 22 August.
Cándido Ríos Vázquez, the correspondent of the El Diario de Acayucan regional newspaper and editor of his own local newspaper, La Voz de Hueyapan, was gunned down on the street outside a supermarket in the town’s Juan Díaz Covarrubias district.
Two other persons were killed in the shooting – former Acayucan police inspector Víctor Antonio Alegría and an individual whose identity is not yet known. They were with Ríos outside the supermarket when a pickup pulled up and gunmen aboard it opened fire.
Personnel at the Federal Mechanism for Protecting Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, a programme attached to the interior ministry, confirmed to RSF that Ríos had been receiving protection from this programme since March.
The interior ministry’s under-secretary for human rights, Roberto Campa Cifrián, said the men accompanying Ríos were the targets of the shooting attack, not Ríos himself.
Ríos was detained and tortured in 2001 and had filed several complaints against Hueyapan’s former mayor. The Veracruz State Commission for the Attention and Protection of Journalists (CEAPP) said that in 2012 the Veracruz attorney general’s office opened an investigation into physical attacks against Ríos.
“This latest tragedy confirms the urgent need for the federal authorities to overhaul the mechanism for protecting journalists, which has yet again demonstrated its ineffectiveness,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Americas bureau.
“And those investigating this execution-style murder must quickly identify those responsible, giving priority to the hypothesis that Ríos was killed in connection with his work as a journalist.”
Mexico is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media and Veracruz is Mexico’s most dangerous state. Ríos was the 22nd journalist to have been murdered in Veracruz since 2000.
In a report published in February, entitled “Veracruz: journalists and the state of fear,” RSF provides a detailed examination of the flaws in Mexico’s mechanisms for protecting journalists in danger, and offers recommendations for improving the situation.
Mexico is ranked 147th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.